Mosquito Bites (or the Itchy Welts of Rejection)

mosquito

Photo by James Jordan (CC BY-ND 2.0)

If you’re an author seeking publication, rejection is something we encounter often. It’s sort of like that time of day when walking outside is an invitation for mosquitos to sit down to supper. They will bite. The welts will swell, itch, and annoy you for a few days. And then, the evidence of their presence will go away.

The inclination of reasonably intelligent people will be to stay inside during the hours when mosquitos are out for blood. That, or apply lethal quantities of bug repellent. For authors, the DEET in the aerosol-propelled smelly stuff that allows us to party out of doors at dusk is optimism, perspective, and/or sense of humor.

I received a rejection today from a publisher I admire. Friends are published with them. At least one of their authors has books on the shelf at the local Barnes and Noble, and she’s not local. Of all the recent submissions, I had high hopes for that one.

Still, when I got the email today, I couldn’t be upset at having been turned down. I chose not to be. I’ve been rejected before, after all. Recently for Glitch, by publishers both more and less notable, and in the past for January Black. And I have observed a difference between now and then. All three rejections received thus far for Glitch came with feedback, while January Black was turned down mostly by non-response.

Sure, I could focus on the rejection from an awesome publisher, but why when I choose to see the progress? I, as an author, now warrant feedback from people who read for a living! That’s HUGE! And with feedback comes opportunity.

So arm yourselves with bug spray, lovely readers, because whatever party you’re joining, things will probably start getting interesting right around the time the mosquitos start biting.

The Big 4-0

My husband keeps asking me what I want to do for my birthday, and I have no idea. Texas de Brazil will probably be getting money from us this weekend, in which case I will consume a cocktail with a Portuguese name I will butcher when I attempt to pronounce it. And I won’t feel bad, because, yeah…I’m 40.

Honestly, I’ve been claiming 40 for a while now, because what difference does a few weeks make, really? And I really love the looks I get when I tell people that I’m 40. That started when I was 36 and sitting in a pitch session with Jenny Bent, from The Bent Agency. I could see the doubt and confusion fighting in her brain.

She’s lying. There’s no way she’s 36. Why would a woman over 21 add years to her age? She’s really that old?

I love Jenny Bent, by the way. She doesn’t represent my genre but asked to see pages anyway, told me I was a good writer, gave me some advice about dialing down my vocabulary, and gave me a recommendation to the YA agent in her office. All this in the span of five minutes. I seriously wanted to send her chocolate to say thank you for the boost of confidence, which came at just the right time, but I was advised of the many ways that could be taken as more than simple gratitude.

Where was I? Oh yeah, 40.

Maybe it’s the amount of time I’m spending in the heads of upper teenagers because I write YA, but I don’t feel much different than I did at 20. I consume more alcohol and I have a different opinion of both MTV and God, but otherwise, I don’t think I’ve changed much. I’m much too concerned with what I want to have done in the next 20 years to worry about where the last 20 went.

Recently, I spoke to a writer friend about Jennifer Armentrout. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s a big deal in publishing as a hybrid author. Multiple series with multiple publishers. She’s got contracts for books she hasn’t written yet. She’s the poster child for “successful” author. She has an impressive backlist, a rabid fanbase, and writing novels IS her day job. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about Daemon Black, but I want to be Jennifer Armentrout when I grow up.

What am I doing to get myself there?

First, while waiting to hear back from agents and editors about GLITCH, I’m working on a to-do list for a self-published launch. It’s a longer list of tasks than you might think.

Second, I am starting the outline for VIRGO. Glitch and Virgo share the same universe, so there’s a lot of world building I have to do to keep the world consistent, because I’m intending to write the series in tandem. (Yes, you may call me insane.)
Third, I’m starting to put together an idea for a standalone magical realism. It took me a good two months to wrap my head around what magical realism is exactly, but I think the idea I’ve come up with is pretty good on both the genre front AND the diversity in YA front.

Four, I’m stalking #MSWL on Twitter, and you know what I’ve discovered. Dystopian is out. High Fantasy is back IN. I have a two volume High Fantasy sitting on my self. May have to drag that sucker out. Would require editing though…a lot of editing.

OH…if you’re reading this and you just happen to write High Fantasy that is based on non-European cultures, there are agents looking for that.

So, if I get off my ass…I should be able to complete 2 series, 2 stand alone novels, and a 2-volume epic, for a grand total of 11 published novels before I’m 50? Ask me again in 2024 how I did. If I manage to get it done, I will certainly have been too busy to care about the big 5-0.

That reminds me. My driver’s license expires today.

My Blogging Lapse, RT2014 People-Watching, and Stuff

Nancy Brant asked me to participate in a writing process blog hop and I saw it as an opportunity to post something. I haven’t blogged in a while. It sucks, but there’s a reason for it that’s relevant to my writing process. For me, writing takes one road, and reading/reviewing/blogging/promoting take another. I am working on strategy to manage both at the same time, but I’m not there yet.

There are a few, very exciting things happening with my writing career. A few years ago, I would have found one of them greatly disappointing. The benefit of time, and rapid progress in the industry, is that what might have been a setback only three years ago is now a blessing, and not even a disguised one. I apologize for being vague. I’d love to tell the story, because I think it’s an interesting one, but I neither can nor should. Truly, it doesn’t provide much value for other writers, not even for those in a similar situation.

RT2014

Marie Sexton, Me, and Alanna Coco

I attended RT 2014 in New Orleans this year. I met great people, spent a lot of time with my childhood friend, Marie Sexton, and sat in on some insightful panels. However, the most valuable thing I took away from the conference is something I observed while people watching among the indie authors. The ones that are successful–which I will define as having name recognition with strangers (think Lilliana Hart)—had two things in common that most of the authors in NOLA lacked. One, they referred to themselves as “indie publishers”, and two, they don’t sit still. Their books are the sellable component of their personal businesses, which is kept afloat with various entrepreneurial requirements. Whereas many self-published authors are fighting to connect with readers to sell a book, these few are reading trade publications, making connections, and building brands. Their books are marketing them, rather than the other way round.

Clearly, it’s not a model for success that can be implemented overnight by a working mom with a daily 50-mile round trip commute, but it’s nice to have an attainable goal.

Right now, the bulk of my focus is on Glitch, book one of a YA Sci-fi series. As of this morning, Glitch is a working title, because a book with that title was released in the same genre back in February. The idea for “The Winter Son” trilogy came about from a desire to dabble in the war between angels, but make angels the bad guys. It was originally called “The Choir Boys,” and it was intended to be a paranormal romance featuring an immortal paramilitary operative, but my main character argued that he wasn’t old enough to vote, so changes had to be made. I finish books, but they’re never the ones I start.

I’ve been asked how my work is different from others in its genre. I think that’s a question better left to readers. There’s a literary concept called “suspension of disbelief” and basically, readers cannot relate to something perfect. The more incredible something is–wealthy, beautiful, and/or powerful—the more flawed it has to be. Take any superhero you like and weigh his/her strengths against weaknesses. You’ll find they balance each other out.

It might be a cop out, but I try to make my characters on the average side, more representable of the young adult population. I avoid hot heroes and girls with red hair and green eyes. I have smart kids who make dumb, and sometimes selfish decisions. My world building is largely contemporary, but as the story progresses and the surface is scratched, evidence of richer, darker, even alien worlds can be found beneath.

I never set about writing this way. It evolved over time. I’m half-Japanese, and having been raised in Wyoming, I have come to self-identify as a white woman. For half of my life, I was a practicing Mormon, but in my 20s, I discovered an atheist within. I’m Pro-Gun, Pro-Choice, Pro-Fiscal Responsibility, Pro-Diversity, and a straight ally of the LGBT community. My writing, I believe, is a reflection of me, and written for my 16-year-old self…a girl whose life was shaped by reading books that were over her head.

My writing process is one that needs to change the more I think about it. I work out ideas in notebooks, write scenes in Scrivener, edit on hard copy, and I get done when I get done. It worked well when I was writing for myself, but my goals have changed. One day, I hope to quit my job and write full-time, and spending two years to complete one book isn’t going to get me there.

I was supposed to tag in three other writers to post next Monday, but like I said…I have two roads at the moment. Finding authors to participate turned out to be on the other one. Instead, please check out these great new releases.

Summoned, by Rainy Kaye

The Devil Made Me Do It  (Book 2, Speak of the Devil Series), by Shawna Romkey

Endured (Book 3, Shadowed Love Series), by Kinley Baker

DDYA Tuesday Teaser: Micah’s First Scene #Glitch

On the spectrum of authors, I’m what is commonly referred to as a “plotter.” At the other end are the “pantsers.” I used to be one, and today I envy their word counts with my every breath. Years ago, I could spit out epic length novels in ten months. Now, I spend that much time writing down notes about characters and fragments of scenes to be stitched together later. Finally, after a year, I have the first 10,000 words complete on my current work-in-progress “Glitch,” the first book of a paranormal series. I hope to have a complete first draft by this summer.

Micah’s scenes are told in 1st person POV, and present tense. Check out the scene at this link!